Elder Hall had been asked to talk in sacrament meeting.
Why did you come to sacrament meeting today? Did you come to find out who the new Branch President would be? Did you come to hear the missionary give his last talk before going home?
Those are good reasons to come to a meeting, but not the reason to come to sacrament meeting.
We come to sacrament meeting to confess our sins and to put ourselves under covenant as we partake of the sacrament.
Elder Hall paused and looked ruefully at the audience.
I probably have more need to repent of my sins than most. I remember something Brigham Young said:
“I will say, there is not a man in this house who has a more indomitable and unyielding temper than myself.”[i]
I can relate to that. I was a carpenter, a “panday”. Sometimes my tools would not be where I thought they should be, and I would get very angry. I would raise my voice to demand of my boys what they had done with the tools. But sometimes it was me who had misplaced them.
A while back, a man, an Australian I met on the street, started yelling at me. Soon we were nose to nose yelling at each other. I was not very dignified. I still feel the anger when I think about it. It took me a long time to follow Brigham Young’s advice and say “Knees, get down there”; it took a long time to make them bend; and it took a long time for me to make them remain there until I obtained the Spirit of the Lord.[ii]
I needed to do that before I could come to church and partake of the sacrament.
Each week, before Sunday comes, I have to think about my week, and to confess, and to recommit myself through the sacrament.
As Brigham Young said,
“I am trying to civilize myself.”[iii]
He also said,
“When my feelings are aroused to anger by the ill-doings of others, I hold them as I would hold a wild horse, and I gain the victory.[iv]
Then Elder Hall told a story:
My father worked with horses all his life. When he was past seventy years of age, he bought an untrained horse, a two-year Arabian. He worked with it until he could put a halter on it and lead it. He worked with it until he could put a bridle on it, and finally a saddle. Then it was time to ride the horse. My father and I saddled two horses, got a rope, and rode with the Arabian between us to the place my father had picked out. My father told me to hold the rope and keep the Arabian close my horse while he stepped from his horse to the saddle of the Arabian.
The rope was very strong. But there was one problem. It was made from nylon—and nylon will stretch. As my father stepped into the saddle, the Arabian began to fight, and the rope stretched enough that I could not keep my horse close enough to control the Arabian.
The Arabian began bucking, and threw my father off onto the hard, rocky ground. My father was past seventy years of age. It hurt when he landed. He lay there a few moments, then forced himself to get up. He tied another rope, and we started again.
When he stepped from his horse to the saddle of the Arabian, I was able to hold the rope tight, and my father rode that horse.
Elder Hall thought a moment as he finished his story. Then he spoke again.
When we are not able to hold tight to our feelings of anger, they break loose like a wild horse. People get hurt.
If we lose control of our anger, there is nothing to do but get back up on that horse, and ride it until we are in control.
If the spirit yields to the body, it becomes corrupt; but if the body yields to the spirit it becomes pure and holy[v].
My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened.[vi]